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107.10台灣銀行家雜誌第106期 / By Zhuo Xin-Ying (卓昕穎)

PayNow Corporate is a Small Player with Big AmbitionsSingapore’s Digital Trade Strategy
Singapore released a “Digital Government Blueprint” this year outlining plans to become the world’s most powerful trade chain center.Singapore’s Digital Government Blueprint, released in June 2018, outlines innovative ways the government can use technology to rethink public services, including providing the public with multiple payment alternatives. A form prefilling function has been added for payments to public services, reducing the amount of duplicate work. The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) has invited major banks, including foreign ones, to start a PayNow personal mobile payment system. In August, PayNow Corporate was launched for payments between the public and private sectors, moving towards the goal of paperless B2B funds transfer in real time. According to experts in international trade technology, Singapore, as Asia’s trading hub, is taking advantage of international experience in digitalization of trade fund flows, and is looking to the long term to create a global trade chain network.Transferring the ‘customer first’ principle to digital finance innovation, there is no particular reason to separate retail and consumer, or foundation and corporate financing. The PayNow mobile payment system, released in July 2017 starting from personal payments, set by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), in coordination with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), simply calls itself a “person-to-person (point-to-point) instant payment service.” In the year since it has started operation, it has accumulated 1 million registered users, and facilitated 900 million SGD in transactions. In August of this year, the system expanded to corporate funds. Companies with a Singapore Unique Entity Number (UEN) can transfer cash on PayNow Corporate at any time with no fees. The same system can be used for B2C, B2B, C2C, and B2G transactions. Singapore’s pursuit of digital development has moved from ordinary consumers to companies.Cross-bank and Cross-industry UsageABS is the main integrator of the PayNow system. Singapore’s three main banks – POSB, OCBC, and UOB – participated in its development, as well as six foreign banks: Citibank, HSBC, Maybank, Standard Chartered, Bank of China, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). Although Bank of China and ICBC did not register when PayNow Corporate was launched, their retail clients can still use the platform.HSBC said that PayNow activation only requires knowing the recipient’s mobile phone or Singapore National Registration number; PayNow Corporate allows companies to use their UEN to connect a domestic bank account, but payments are currently limited to Singapore dollars.This method can reduce the costs of cash and checks,” said ABS Chairman Piyush Gupta. Banks must provide their customers with a “no gap” payments experience. PayNow uses phone numbers to send money between users. It also uses a NETS QR code to simplify payment for small purchases. PayNow Corporate accelerates application and approval for payments involving the government.Gupta also revealed that ABS members have also conducted experiments on trade flows, like Project Ubin and DLT blockchain technology. The objective of the former is to complete interbank payments in the absence of a trusted intermediary, while the latter is a 24/7 instant cross-border transaction settlement system. “We must lay a viable path for innovation in cross-border payments.”Exploring Demand for Corporate Funds DigitizationSingapore’s development over the last 10 years has centered upon its Smart Nation blueprint, using smart technology – along with public construction, office environments and entertainment – to strengthen the reliability of infrastructure. The policy has been implemented in the background of the National Digital Identity System and incentives to use electronic payments. Singaporeans can easily and securely verify their identity to make online payments or share simple, easy and quick payments. Clearly, PayNow one step on a road that goes many directions.In 2016, MAS launched the MyInfo website, with information from the Ministry of Finance and GovTech, allowing the public to fill in personal information online, to be automatically sent to banks when applying for a credit card or opening an account, saving time with the KYC process. Citizens automatically receive license application information when registering a company in Singapore – a demonstration project for PayNow Corporate.Many components of corporate finance services are tailor-made for banks and financing services. Treasury management includes cash flow management and credit. Payments and assets include securities and equity management, and forex, etc. Large and medium-sized enterprises use different financial services than small ones or franchises. It’s time to create new opportunities for corporate finance in line with the development of FinTech. For instance, FinTech startups have targeted certain portions of the industrial value chain – including electronic payments and invoices – with blockchain technologies, accelerating payment clearance and reducing transaction costs. If the banking industry can play its part properly, it is estimated that it can save businesses billions of dollars.The PayNow system promoted by the Singapore government, with participation by major banks, encourages users to register online and offers discounts for cooperation with service projects. UOB further integrates PayNow into its cash management system, and provides QR code generators to users, allowing companies to automatically generate payment codes. DBS Bank also said that almost 100% of new small and medium-sized enterprise customers have pre-registered for PayNow Corporate, thanks to previously promoted diverse corporate management platforms such as Giro and FAST. “Investments in time pay off!” Corporate users include the Singapore Land Administration among government bodies, AIG (US), and major retailers and food chains.According to internal DBS data, 92% of all transactions for corporate customers are completed through digital financial services. With the support of the DBS IDEAL RAPID API corporate finance platform, corporate clients have become more proactive in requiring DBS to activate PayNow Corporate and PayNow QR, in order to realize instant end-to-end automated payments. This is particularly the case for many SME clients, who rely upon prompt cash flow for their productivity.In order to facilitate the smooth induction of corporate clients into PayNow Corporate, and understand how SME clients make domestic payments and automate core accounts, the seven participating banks have invested in internal training, and strengthened interaction with their clients. Some clients have worried about singled out for taxation, but Singapore’s Prime Minister’s office has clarified this issue.One ecosystem for all digital financial servicesRaof Latiff, Digital Head for International Banking at DBS, said that PayNow Corporate and PayNow shouldn’t accept self-imposed limits on their development just because transaction amounts are increasing. In addition to participating in PayNow, DBS has been investing more in its internal development of digital funds management platforms, bringing its services closer to the digital needs of corporate clients. With the fund management simulation platform Treasury Prism, clients can set up their own management structure, including factors like interest expenses and taxes, integrating all of their service demands, particularly with supply chains, increasing the efficiency of digital regional trading.The Digital Trade Blueprint is not just about what DBS wants to do,” Latiff said. Trade is a matter not only of global markets, but also ecosystem initiatives. A single bank cannot be successful on its own. Rather, platforms are required for supply chains to truly embrace the future. Similarly, thinking about customer experience, various industries can be linked together, even including related trade markets, such as Hong Kong and Muslim markets.DBS, formerly the Development Bank of Singapore, was built up from the Singapore Economic Development Board: Singapore’s national trade development and transformation are in the hands of banks. Latiff emphasized that to achieve the expected effects in the first stage, DBS is focusing on four “extremely necessary” industries: shipping/logistics, automobiles, commodities, and consumer brands. As a pilot approach, it has planned six enterprise solutions for bank and industrial clients. Later, the solutions will be applied across industries. He also pointed to DBS as a model for Taiwanese banks, considering possible Taiwanese service models for trade flows from industrial system structure.


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